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How to Eat (and Drink) Around the U.S. Without Leaving D.C.

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From Taylor pork roll to Maine lobster rolls, all in D.C.

Pop's SeaBar
Pop's SeaBar
R. Lopez

Washington D.C. may not technically be a state itself. But it is the capital of the entire United States. Besides the fact that Congressional representatives come to the city to do their law-making dirty work, the rest of the country is represented in several ways —especially culinarily. There are lobster rolls, beignets and slabs of ribs to be found without having to venture to the dish's home states to get the grub. This city of transplants doesn't have to work very hard to find a dish from their childhood.

Here's where to get at least one taste from each of the 50 states in the D.C. area's eateries and bars. And there's always Ben's Chili Bowl for a taste of home.

Have another regional favorite in D.C.? Share in the comments.

Editor markup for Where to Eat Foods from All 50 States in D.C.. This is only visible in the story editor.


Alabama: Fried green tomatoes are such a staple in Alabama that the movie of the same name begins there. Give Southern Hospitality's version, with remoulade sauce, a whirl. Find it: Southern Hospitality, Adams Morgan

Alaska: For this one, a farmer's market trip is in order. That's because in 2011 Alaskan native Traveler Terpening  and his wife.launched Cold Country Salmon to provide Alaskan salmon to the area via a co-op style business. The company's 2015 farmer's market schedule is here and includes regular stops in Georgetown and in The Palisades. Their website also features salmon recipes to try out on your rare seafood purchase. Find it: Several farmers markets.

Arizona: Prickly pear cactus comes in many forms and incarnations back in Arizona. In D.C. El Centro has it on its margarita menu year-round. Salud! Find it: El Centro D.F., Georgetown and Logan Circle

Arkansas: Fried pickles are an Arkansas invention, and DC-3's has a craveable rendition in chip form, as opposed to the more frequently found spears. Find it: DC-3, Capitol Hill.

Fried Pickles from DC-3 [Photo: Facebook]

Fried Pickles from DC-3 [Photo: Facebook]

California: North Bethesda just gained Summer House Santa Monica, with So Cal-inspired fare. The ahi tuna tacos have been particularly popular so far. Find it: Summer House Santa Monica, North Bethesda/Rockville.

Colorado: With Avery, New Belgium and a veritable cornucopia of beers hailing from Colorado, grabbing a pint from one of these breweries is an easy way to connect with the state. Meridian Pint is a great bet as the bar that debuted Smells Like Freedom, a beer collaboration between Colorado's Oskar Blues and DC Brau to pay homage to D.C.'s marijuana legalization. Find it: Meridian Pint, Columbia Heights

Connecticut: Pete's New-Haven Style Apizza is all over the region these days, and all of them have New Haven pies — a white pizza with clams, garlic, oregano, olive oil and pecorino romano. Find it: Pete's New-Haven, various locations.

Delaware: Head to sandwich slinger Capriotti's for the Bobbie Sandwich, with turkey, cranberries, stuffing and mayo. The sandwich is a big deal in and around Delaware, which makes sense given the chain got its start in Delaware 30-plus years ago. Find it: Capriotti's, various locations.

The Bobbie [Photo: Official]

The Bobbie [Photo: Official]

Florida: Channel Florida hotspot Miami courtesy of the cuban sandwich, which is one of the staples on the menu at Sophie's Cuban Cuisine along with rotating specials that frequently include the joint's beloved green sauce. Find it: Sophie's Cuban, Dupont Circle

Georgia: Named after the sweet onion that grows in the southern portion of the southern state, Vidalia is an ideal place to go for general Southern fare like shrimp and grits or, when it's in season, a special baked Vidalia onion. Find it: Vidalia, downtown D.C.

Hawaii: Popular food truck Hula Grill will be opening its first brick and mortar location in Shirlington later this year, and it will be the place to snag both spam musubi, a hit from the food truck days, and traditional laulau, essentially butterfish and pork belly wrapped in taro and tea leaves. Find it: Hula Girl (truck various locations, restaurant coming soon to Shirlington). UPDATE: The truck is currently off the road as Hula Girl prepares for its Shirlington opening, but an October opening is planned for the location at 4044 Campbell Ave.

Idaho: Tots might be the greatest form in which potatoes, Idaho's star produce, can take. And some killer ones can be found at Spacebar, which can be accented with various toppings. Find it: Spacebar, Falls Church.

Totchos at Spacebar [Photo: Missy Frederick]

Totchos at Spacebar [Photo: Missy Frederick]

Illinois: Chicago is certainly the state's star city, and Shaw bar Ivy & Coney is a relaxed Chicago-themed sport bar that serves Chicago-style hot dogs. Find it: Ivy & Coney, Shaw.

Indiana: Sugar cream pie is a treasured treat for Indiana natives, so head to Dangerously Delicious Pies and order the vanilla cream pie to become one for a sitting. Find it: Dangerously Delicious, various locations.

Iowa: Corn is the bar-none crop of Iowa, grown in farms all over the state. So why not dine at Founding Farmers and nosh on some skillet cornbread or four corn chicken? Find it: Founding Farmers, multiple locations.

Kansas: Kansas food is tough to find in  D.C., especially since Missouri gets Kansas City barbecue (though one could make like the state's own Dorothy and Toto and soon visit Oz, a new restaurant set to open in Clarendon in coming weeks). But many food-lovers believe Southern fried chicken should be the state's official food (Kansas doesn't have one). Give a classic version a try at Oohs and Aahs. Find it: Oohs and Aahs, U Street.

Fried chicken [Photo: Facebook]

Fried chicken [Photo: Facebook]

Kentucky: Whiskey lovers, head to Southern Efficiency from prolific bar owner and mixologist Derek Brown. Besides chugging Kentucky's finest booze; also, dig into some pimento cheese and fried oysters followed by moon pie ala mode. Find it: Southern Efficiency, Shaw.

Louisiana: New Orleans-born chef David Guas cooks up beignets, muffaletta and other Louisiana yummies at Bayou Bakery. In other words, laissez les bon temp roulez hundreds of miles from the Big Easy. Find it: Bayou Bakery, Arlington and Capitol Hill

Maine: Sit down to a lobster roll at Luke's Lobster, which is named for owner Luke Holden, who (shockingly) loves lobsters. Find it: Luke's Lobster (multiple locations).

Maryland: Just drive to Annapolis and make an afternoon of it at Cantler's Riverside Inn for the full crab-picking experience. Find it: Cantler's, Annapolis

Crabs from Cantler's [Photo: Facebook]

Crabs from Cantler's [Photo: Facebook]

Massachusetts: Nobadeer Beach occupies prime real estate on Nantucket, and it's also the signature sandwich at Jettie's numerous locations. But that sandwich can't dwarf Boston's most well-known food, clam chowder. Clyde's makes a solid version. Find it: Clyde's, multiple locations.

Michigan: Kangaroo Boxing Club's owners have Michigan connections, but it's not a focus of the barbecue joint's cuisine. The state is known for its meat pies, or pasties. Try a different spin on the dish (more British-influenced) at Vienna's Pure Pasty Company. Find it: Pure Pasty Company, Vienna.

Minnesota: Deer hunting is a time-honored pastime in Minnesota, which means venison would be an appropriate culinary salute to the state. Cafe Mozart has a venison steak topped with lingonberry sauce. Find it: Cafe Mozart, downtown.

Mississippi: Buzz Bakery's desserts include a seasonal Mississippi Mud Pie that's as decadent and rich as they come and a fitting salute to the state for which it's named. Find it: Buzz Bakery, Alexandria and Arlington.

Missouri: Kansas City-style barbecue is a famed food from this state, so head to Cleveland Park's Fat Pete's, where Kansas City-style sauce is one of the favored options. You can spread it on burnt ends, wings or a whole host of meats, and the eatery also features St. Louis-style spare ribs. Find it: Fat Pete's, Cleveland Park

Montana: Columbia Heights' one-year-old dive Lyman's Tavern — besides having arcade games, a piano and funky decorative touches — is themed around Montana. The offerings lean more traditional bar food, though it has dishes like frito pie (popular in Montana but more of a Texas/New Mexico thing). To seek out the state's infamous Rocky Mountain Oysters, hit the Montana State Society's annual partyFind it: Lyman's Tavern, Columbia Heights

Pirozhkis at Ruz Uz [Photo: Facebook]

Pirozhkis at Ruz Uz [Photo: Facebook]

Nebraska: Nebraska's runzas are overstuffed meat pies and, sadly, not easy to come by in The District. However, Arlington's Rus Uz comes close with its Russian-style pirozhkis. Find it: Ruz Uz, Arlington

Nevada: Along with Elvis and over-the-top glitz, Las Vegas is known for its gut-busting buffets. Stuff your face all-you-can-eat style at Filomena Restaurante in Georgetown for a carb-heavy Sunday buffet. Find it: Filomena, Georgetown

New Hampshire: Smuttynose is a New Hampshire beer institution, and Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan has a handful of Smuttynose varieties on draft at all times. Find it: The Black Squirrel, Adams Morgan

New Jersey: Order up a pork roll like the kind found along the Garden State Parkway at Pop's Sea Bar, whose inspiration comes from none other than the Jersey Shore. Find it: Pop's Sea Bar, Adams Morgan

Egg and Pork Roll at Pop's [Photo: Facebook]

Egg and Pork Roll at Pop's [Photo: Facebook]

New Mexico: Find sopapillas, the fried pastry widely found in New Mexico, in several Tex-Mex restaurants around town. Try the ones at Cactus Cantina. Find it: Cactus Cantina, Cleveland Park

New York: New York-style pizza is a claim that many places make, but in D.C. few deliver. That's why Wiseguys has been such a welcome addition to the scene, especially with New York-ish toppings like chicken parm and meatball. Go for a slice or two or three followed by cheesecake for a full Big Apple experience. Find it: Wiseguys, Mt. Vernon Triangle and Rosslyn

North Carolina: Along with a vinegary pulled pork sandwich, procure some Carolina slaw at Garden District on 14th and it'll feel like a true Southern outdoor picnic. Find it: Garden District, Logan Circle.

North Dakota: Scandinavian food reigns supreme in the uppermost Dakota, and usually it's served in a church hall or all-you-can-eat setting. So shop for a new futon at the IKEA in College Park and then hit up the store's cafeteria for some Swedish meatballs. Find it: Ikea, College Park

Ohio: Cincinnati-style chili is a must and Hard Times Cafe offers up this delicacy, which has a fine grind of beef with a tomato base and sweeter flavor undercurrents coming from spices like cinnamon. Find it: Hard Times Cafe, multiple locations.

Chili at Hard Times [Photo: Official]

Chili at Hard Times [Photo: Official]

Oklahoma: Strawberries are the official fruit of Oklahoma, and unexpected way to find it in D.C. is in Rose's Luxury's spaghetti with strawberry sauce. But it's not a regular menu item, so instead, hit up Carmine's for a gigantic strawberry shortcake. Find it: Carmine's, Penn Quarter.

Oregon: Stumptown Coffee is huge in Portland (and headquartered there) and thanks to the company's partnership with Dolcezza, it's easy to find in D.C. Find it: Dolcezza lab, NoMa.

Pennsylvania: For the quintessential Philly-style hoagie, it has to be Taylor Gourmet. Back in 2008, Taylor's founders sought to fill a sandwich void in the D.C. area and their empire continues to grow. The Pattison -- broccoli rabe, braised pork and provolone -- is one of the finest. Bonus: they also carry cheesesteaks. Find it: Taylor Gourmet, multiple locations.

Rhode Island: Rhode Island's clear variety of clam chowder hasn't been spotted in D.C. (tell us if you've seen it). Instead, head to Ford's Fish Shack for fried whole-belly clams. Find it: Ford's Fish Shack, Ashburn.

Clams at Ford's [Photo: Official]

Clams at Ford's [Photo: Official]

South Carolina: Barrel is a Southern bourbon bar new-ish to Capitol Hill. More  specifically, though, its inspiration comes from Charleston, S.C., one of the establishment's partners has said. Give the red-eye biscuit sammy a chance during brunch. Also keep an eye out around town for low-country dish Frogmore stew, which has been spotted at such places at DC Coast and Nopa, though it's not currently on the menu. Find it: Barrel, Capitol Hill

South Dakota: Fry bread is the official bread of South Dakota, and well-known as a fixture of Indian cuisine. Lucky for D.C. it's on the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian cafe's menu. Find it: Mitsitam Cafe, National Mall

Tennessee: Nashville's famed hot chicken has long been hard to find around the region. But that's fast changing, and one of the newest destinations to get it is Due South. Find it: Due South, Navy Yard

Texas: Not only does Hill Country serve up Texas BBQ favorites such as brisket, there's also live music in the spirit of the state most nights of the week. Prefer Tex-Mex? There's always Chuy's. Find it: Hill Country, Penn Quarter

Utah: Residents of Utah love their jello and consume more of it than any other state per capita. That fact calls for jello shots at Adams Morgan institution Millie & Al's. Just wait for the red lights to flash over the bar and for the dancing skeleton to, well, dance. Find it: Millie & Al's, Adams Morgan

Vermont: Nothing says Vermont like maple syrup, which goes well poured on top of the pancakes and waffles at The Market Lunch at Eastern Market. The counter is well-known for its blueberry buckwheat pancakes — just be sure to ask for the real stuff to go with them. Find it: The Market Lunch.

Eastern Market Pancakes [Photo: Facebook]

Eastern Market Pancakes [Photo: Facebook]

Virginia: Just go there, it being D.C.'s next-door neighbor and all. A more specific recommendation: The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm features local ingredients like Virginia ham or foraged mushrooms, and will also serve dishes with Virginia influences like spoonbread. Virginia wines can be found on the wine list, too. Find it: The Restaurant at Pawtomack Farm, Lovettsville

Washington: There's always Starbucks, which number in the dozens regionally. Or head to BlackSalt Fish Market to have a Seattle fish market-esque experience and where wild sockeye and wild king salmon are on the menu. Find it: Blacksalt, Palisades

West Virginia: Pepperoni rolls are the bee's knees in West Virginia, and, with a number of Matchbox Food Groups' partners hailing from West Virginia, it makes sense that Ted's Bulletin features the snack on its menu with marinara dipping sauce. Find it: Ted's Bulletin (multiple locations)

Pepperoni Rolls [Kimberly K./Yelp]

Pepperoni Rolls [Kimberly K./Yelp]

Wisconsin: If anyone has spotted fried cheese curds in D.C., let us know about it. In the meantime, pay a nod to the Wisconsin Fish Fry with a trip to Fish in the Hood. Find it: Fish in the Hood, Park View

Wyoming: Wyoming is a land of cowboys with cowboy cuisine to boot. So take a big bite of bison, one of the featured burger cuts at Thunder Burger. Find it: Thunder Burger Bar, Georgetown

—Additional reporting by Missy Frederick and Meredith Bethune

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